Tri-State Arsenal’s Dan Pardini gets ready for a pitch in Sunday’s 14U game against the Grind.
By Will Harrigan
The Tri-State Arsenal 14U (Marucci) travel baseball team was supposed to have an elimination game in pool play of the King of the Diamond 14U tournament against their Connecticut Grind 14U counterparts.
Instead, it turned out to be a Griffin Kilcullen demolition derby.
A one-man wrecking crew, Kilcullen put up a 3-for-3 showing that included two triples and 4 RBI, lifting his squad to a 15-1 victory over the Grind. The game ended with the 10-run mercy rule being implemented after the fourth inning.
Arsenal wrapped up pool play with a 2-0-1 record, besting CT Grind’s 2-1 mark thanks to their head-to-head result and advancing to the semifinals at press time.
As it turns out, Kilcullen credited a simple adjustment for his terrific performance in this one.
“I switched to a lighter bat before this game because I thought my swing was a little slow,” Kilcullen said. “The pitches I kept getting were flat and I was able to square them up. I’ll be using this bat a lot more now.”
The winners were quite efficient in getting out to a fast start. Second baseman and leadoff batter Gio Cristinzio got aboard with an infield single to start the rally. Kilcullen then got up to the dish and laced a triple into the left-center field gap, plating Cristinzio and putting the Arsenal ahead 1-0.
Three-batter Owen Peiffer then served an RBI single into right field to double the advantage to 2-0.
A pair of walks then loaded the bases, setting up Malachi Rivas’ line drive single to center field that scored a pair of runs. Chris Graff – one of the two batters who had walked – scored on a wild pitch to cap off the five-run first for Arsenal.
CT Grind’s Jake Boley pitched valiantly in relief, surrendering two earned runs in 3.2 innings of work. He helped get the Grind out of the jam by fanning two batters to end the frame.
Already rolling, the Arsenal put up another crooked number in the second. Dan Pardini’s leadoff walk got things started for the Arsenal, and, two batters later, it was Kilcullen tripling once again – this time down the left field line – to score Pardini and pitcher Carter Bucci.
Kilcullen would come around to score two batters later on a fielding error by the Grind.
On the mound, Bucci was rock solid for Tri-State Arsenal – a program based out of Mount Laurel in Burlington County. Bucci pitching four innings of one hit ball to keep his offense coming back up to the plate with an opportunity to extend their lead.
That trend continued in the third with yet another big inning produced by Tri-State Arsenal.
A fielding error and two walks jammed the bases, and a balk would score Marco Atehorua. Cristinzio would fly out to right to record a sacrifice fly. Kilcullen followed with a bloop single to score a run, boosting the lead to 12-1.
Atehortua would add an RBI single of his own in the top of the fourth for Arsenal.
For the Grind, the lone run came home when Rocco DeMaio tripled off Bucci in the third, setting up Boley to drive him home with a sacrifice fly to right two batters later.
Despite the offensive onslaught, no other player involved had a multi-hit game aside from Kilcullen.